Conference Overload? Tips to debrief

Maureen Leif, J.D.
President, Grays Peak Strategies

What an amazing experience it is to attend a conference surrounded by smart passionate people in your industry. Do you ever feel like you have the conference crash? It is the adult brain is not used to sitting in a classroom actively listening for 3 days? Is it that we are overloaded with how to come home and implement all the good ideas and not know where to start? Maybe a little lack of sleep and an extra cookie at the break do not help either. If you are like me I come home and feel exhausted and completely ecstatic at the same time.

Conference Crop.png

Here are some tips to help decompress and debrief after a brain overloaded week of conferencing. Nobody said it was going to be easy by the way.

  • Write it down

Preferably while still at the conference, but even right afterwards, keep a notebook of ideas, networks, follow-up items etc., so you will not forget.

  • Take some time

It’s a good exhaustion but it is still exhaustion nonetheless. Take a little time for some self-care. If you are like me, you pack the exercise clothes, but they never leave the suitcase. Well unpack them and then use them to wear off the cookie from the break. Eat some nutritious foods and hydrate. Then get to bed at a decent hour and get some much-needed rest.

  • Disconnect

Take a break for being so connected. You just spent 3-5 days in close contact with hundreds of people. That can be energizing and fun connecting and reconnecting with colleagues, but now you need a break.

  • Make an Appointment

Mark off time on your calendar to have to yourself to go through your notes and materials to make a list of action items and follow-up needed.  There will be work waiting for you so it will feel like an indulgence, but if you do not do it now, when will you do it? That is what I thought. Remember that you made an investment in traveling to and attending the conference, and this will help you make that investment worthwhile.

  • Follow-up

You know, before it becomes awkward. Right away reach out to the new connections you made and let them know that it was great meeting them and that you hope to keep in contact.

  • Gather ideas

Before you have forgotten what was so inspiring, go back and look at the materials on the mobile app or website. Maybe reach out to the presenter and see if they would be willing to have a conference call. There is such a brain trust a conference, use it!

  • Pick three takeaways to focus on

There is so much information that after you digest your notes, pick three to focus on and set a timeline for yourself with some specific goals. Otherwise, you know what happens.

  • Volunteer

Did you like the conference, get involved with planning it next year! Bring your new ideas and creativity to the conference organizer. Conference planning takes a lot of people and it is a great way to get involved and meet new and very smart people. 

  • Share
Conference Crop 2.png

If you were only one of a few from your organization that got to go to the conference, take time to share your experience with your colleagues. It is great if you can bring them some conference swag but just as important is to share the highlights and information. Schedule a morning coffee break or brown bag and debrief everyone that is interested. People want to know what is going on in the industry, trends, creative solutions, etc. Sharing information shows confidence and security with yourself. Those that hoard information are viewed negatively. It also makes a great case for returning to the conference next time.

Do you have other ideas or suggestions? We want to hear! Leave a comment here or Find us on Twitter @GraysPeak.